The three-time African champions ended a rough patch with the win over Egypt and may have won over another England-born footballer
Southampton star Nathan Tella believes he is ready to play international football and has confessed that it would be a ‘dream’ to wear the famous green and white colours of Nigeria.
The ongoing 2021 Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Cameroon may have played a significant role in helping the 22-year-old arrive at that major decision.
The popularity of Egypt’s captain Mohamed Salah drew the attention of many Premier League watchers to Nigeria’s first group game of the championship, with the Liverpool star expected to run riot in Garoua.
But the Super Eagles became the darling of many after producing an excellent performance to shock the seven-time African champions and their iconic talisman.
Tella admits he has been keeping tabs on the Afcon because of Nigeria and his Southampton teammate Moussa Djenepo, who was in action as Mali defeated Tunisia despite several refereeing mistakes.
Born in England to Nigerian parents, Tella is eligible to feature for the Super Eagles.
The versatile forward will not be entangled by any of the change of nationality processes that denied Ademola Lookman his Afcon chance, as he has never played for any of England’s youth teams.
And inspired by the exploits of Che Adams with Scotland at the Euros last year, Tella is convinced he can become a better player by representing the fatherland.
“I would love to play international football,” Tella told HampshireLive.
“That’s always been a dream of mine. If I went away with Nigeria, it would be something new and new experiences bring out the best in players.
“When I look at Che, I see that he has come back from Scotland as a more mature player. There is no reason why I can’t do that; come back a more mature person.
“Whatever happens in the future, I am just focussed on being here and, yes, trying to score goals and help the team win and progress.”
He continued: “I’m always keeping an eye on AFCON. I’m Nigerian, so I always want to focus and watch the games.
“Obviously, when I have any of my teammates (Moussa Djenepo, Mali) out there, I really want to know how they do.
“I’m happy he won yesterday, despite the ending, but it was good that he was able to win, and I wish him all the best.”
Having played anywhere from striker to right-back for Saints this season, Tella boasts a versatility that could be an advantage for the handlers of the Nigerian national team.
It, however, would be difficult to get a callup to the Super Eagles as the former Afcon champions have quality talents in nearly every department, especially in attack.